WBEZ | Lifestyle http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Mumford and Sons' concert displaces homeless http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/mumford-and-sons-concert-displaces-homeless-112222 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/row-of-orange-.jpg" style="float: right; height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Advocates say a delayed outdoor rock concert in Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood has created uncertainty about if and when a homeless encampment can return to the area.</p><p><strong>One woman&#39;s journey from under the bridge and back:</strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212139049&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">For months now, a line of nearly 20 tents in orange and blue have lined both sides of Wilson Avenue under the Lake Shore Drive bridge. That&rsquo;s where about 40 homeless people have been living and had formed a makeshift community. There was a similar encampment under the Lawrence Avenue viaduct. Each person or family had an unofficial space, surrounding their tents with belongings including wheeled carts, camping chairs and even a full-sized grill that some of the men took turns cooking on.</p><p dir="ltr">But all of that changed earlier this week in advance of a Mumford and Sons concert that is expected to draw thousands to nearby Montrose Beach. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the concert was postponed until Friday.</p><p dir="ltr">On Tuesday, city workers ordered the homeless people to leave so they could clean the area. The workers also threw away many of the people&rsquo;s belongings, including blankets and clothing, in what advocates call a violation of city policy.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know, it&rsquo;s like we&rsquo;re not people, like our stuff doesn&rsquo;t matter,&rdquo; said a homeless woman named Susan, who declined to give her last name. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got nowhere to go. We&rsquo;re just trying to live.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/G-truck-and-red-sign_0.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/G-truck-and-red-sign_0.jpg" style="float: left; height: 377px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></a></div></div><p dir="ltr">Susan said she was devastated about losing her blankets: &ldquo;They&rsquo;re even expensive at the secondhand store when they&rsquo;re half-off. It gets cold out here &mdash; we were freezing in May.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Clearing out a viaduct under a bridge isn&rsquo;t unusual: The city routinely asks people who are homeless to leave for short periods of time so they can clean the area.</p><p dir="ltr">But advocates say it was different this time. They charge the city violated its own policy for handling the personal property of the homeless.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s an <a href="http://www.chicagohomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/City-Policy-and-Procedures-Governing-Off-Street-Cleaning.pdf">agreement</a> that before property&rsquo;s thrown out, people should get notice if there&rsquo;s a problem with the property and have time to do something with the property,&rdquo;said Patricia Nix-Hodes, an attorney for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. &ldquo;That didn&rsquo;t happen.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Workers put up a sign saying the cleanup would start at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Instead, a team of ten city workers arrived in a van around 9. They said they were following city orders to clean the area and were instructed to throw out anything in their way. Some bags, carts, and boxes were still under the viaduct.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marcus-Cart-CU.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Rene Heybach, another attorney for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said she told the workers they were early for the cleanup and to stop what they were doing. They reportedly refused.</p><p dir="ltr">She said she told them they were in violation of the city agreement. But Heybach said that none of the workers she spoke to Tuesday had been properly trained in that protocol, and none of them, including the supervisor, had even heard of it.</p><p dir="ltr">The supervisor on the ground did order her staff to weed whack and cut the lawn first to give people more time to remove their things.</p><p dir="ltr">But Heybach said the city&rsquo;s approach to clearing the area this week was disorganized and confusing. She said they created an emergency situation and added undue stress while not offering any help for the situation.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Everyone is saying different things, they are not coordinating,&rdquo; said Heybach, &ldquo;Everyone&rsquo;s been confused and remains confused.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Susan, the homeless woman who lost her blankets in the cleaning, said workers put up signs with Tuesday&rsquo;s date for the street cleaning. But she said they told her a day earlier that she had to leave, and that she&rsquo;d only have to leave for a day.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They changed their story, they are trying to get us messed up so we lose all our stuff,&rdquo; Susan said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like we&rsquo;re not people, like we don&rsquo;t exist.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Susan, who said she struggles with anxiety, PTSD, neuropathy and other medical conditions, was a single parent and ran a daycare before becoming homeless.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s embarrassing that life can get this low,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not bad people, we&rsquo;re just homeless.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/from-hill-USE.jpg" style="float: left; height: 470px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Attorney Rene Heybach said the Department of Family and Support Services was supposed to help transport some of the homeless people and their items to a nearby safe location. The city agreement says the DFSS &ldquo;will lead the City&rsquo;s contact with homeless persons during the cleanings.&rdquo; &nbsp;But she said DFSS didn&rsquo;t arrive until after the other city crews were already there and clearing the area.</p><p dir="ltr">DFSS spokesman Matt Smith said the department&rsquo;s team is trained in the procedure for handling homeless people&rsquo;s belongings, which includes notification so there&rsquo;s &ldquo;ample time to prepare and remove their possessions from the area being cleaned.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">He said this cleaning was different than routine monthly ones because multiple other city services were involved. The size of the concert also made it necessary for people living under the bridge to leave the area for a longer time period. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Smith said the show is expected to draw thousands and will bring a lot of foot traffic there. He said having tents and people blocking the sidewalks would present a health and public safety issue.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What I believe we are going to be doing is taking tents or possessions or anything that shouldn&rsquo;t be here &hellip; and taking them to a shelter and inventorying them,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;If they want to reclaim those items later, they can make arrangements with our staff to do so.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But by the time DFSS arrived, workers from other departments had cleaned out all but a few items remaining beneath the viaduct.</p><p dir="ltr">DFSS encouraged people to sign up for a system that determines eligibility for supportive housing. The Salvation Army showed up to offer their services too. But Smith said even though people were offered shelter, the city can&rsquo;t force them to take it.</p><p dir="ltr">Susan says she was abused in a local homeless shelter, and doesn&rsquo;t want to go back.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Latia-Sleeping-2.jpg" style="float: right; height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Melissa Muto)" /></div><p dir="ltr">People who&rsquo;d been living under the bridge spent Tuesday spreading their remaining belongings on the grass and over benches at a nearby park to dry out from a rainstorm. Some did go to shelters, while others found temporary housing with family.</p><p dir="ltr">But several of them have spent the week sleeping in the open on blankets and mats. They said DFSS had found them temporary storage for their stuff at a nearby CVS.</p><p dir="ltr">Susan had planned to join them in the park, but said she was afraid to sleep out in the open like that. She found temporary shelter across town instead.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to just lay on the ground on top of blankets, I&rsquo;m a woman, I need privacy,&rdquo; Susan said. &ldquo;Every other woman (who lives) down there has a man, or husband or someone to protect them. I don&rsquo;t.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But like many of the others, Susan plans to return to her spot under the bridge as soon as she can.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear when, or if, that will happen. Thursday, a representative from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless said she had not heard back from the city on whether the homeless people could return after the concert.</p><p><em>Melissa Muto is a WBEZ Pritzker Journalism Fellow.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 13:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/mumford-and-sons-concert-displaces-homeless-112222 In Englewood, kids and cops find common ground on baseball diamond http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/englewood-kids-and-cops-find-common-ground-baseball-diamond-112155 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Image4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Strained relationships between the police and the community are unfortunately common in many cities, and Chicago is no different. From the acquittal of Chicago police officer Dante Servin for killing Rekia Boyd, to the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by two Chicago officers, the trust in law enforcement remains shaky.</p><p>One South Side community group aims to help mend the fences by getting Chicago cops and kids from Englewood playing baseball together. Teamwork Englewood organized the Englewood Police/Youth Baseball League earlier this year to get cops in a coaching and mentoring role. The co-ed league is housed at Hamilton Park and the teams are almost ready for opening day on June 24.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/209374756&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 08 Jun 2015 11:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/englewood-kids-and-cops-find-common-ground-baseball-diamond-112155 Why Easter bunnies don't make the best pets http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-easter-bunnies-dont-make-best-pets-111819 <p><p>When my daughter started pleading on the phone, I was adamant and firm: She could absolutely not bring home a bunny from the farm where she was staying.<br /><br />But 15 minutes later, I found myself saying, &ldquo;OK fine we&rsquo;ll keep them for a trial period.&rdquo;<br /><br />That was last August &mdash; now every morning we wake up early to feed our little black and white furball named Binky. He gets to eat fresh, thoroughly washed organic greens long before we make our own eggs and coffee. We have a 50-pound box of timothy hay on the porch and we&rsquo;ve placed bunny litter boxes all over the house.</p><p>In short, my home has become bunnytown and I am its No. 1 public servant. Parents who are thinking of buying their kids a cuddly little bunny for Easter, might want to think twice.</p><p>&ldquo;Speaking personally I have a dog, a cat and three rabbits, and the rabbits are definitely the most high maintenance,&rdquo; says Marcia Coburn, president of the Red Door Animal Shelter in Rogers Park. &ldquo;They have to have hay, they have to have freedom to run around, yet you have to do bunny-proofing, just like child-proofing in your home. You have to protect your electrical cords because they will chew through them. You have to find an exotics veterinarian because they can&rsquo;t really be seen by a dog or a cat vet.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /><br />I only became aware of these things after we got our bunny, and after I hopped on the many rabbit care websites. Here&rsquo;s what I learned:</p><ul><li>Rabbits are really bad pets for small children</li><li>They don&rsquo;t like to be picked up</li><li>Their bones break very easily</li><li>If they are exposed to loud sounds, they literally can die of fright by having a heart attack</li></ul><p>Oh and P.S., they also live for about 10 years. So we expect to be caring for them long after the the kids leave for college.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s just one of the reasons abandoned rabbits are expected to flood places like Red Door Animal Shelter in a few weeks.</p><p>&ldquo;The people who buy them at Easter end up saying, &lsquo;Well, what am I doing with this? This isn&rsquo;t what I thought it would be,&rsquo;&rdquo; Coburn said. &ldquo;And then they end up dumping them outside and Red Door ends up rescuing about 50 rabbits a year.&rdquo;</p><p>Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that annual pet rabbit sales numbers are unknown, it notes that rabbit breeders &ldquo;usually supply young small rabbits to satisfy customer demand and may see a seasonal increase in demand for rabbits at Easter. &ldquo;</p><p>According to the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals &ldquo;Thousands of ex-Easter bunnies are abandoned to shelters or into the wild each year when their novelty wears off.&rdquo;</p><p>Some groups have also pushed for a ban on rabbit and chick sales in the weeks leading up to Easter and a few independent pet stores have voluntarily agreed to do so.&nbsp;</p><p>But for those who do purchase rabbits, another challenge is finding companions for them. Researchers say bunnies get angry and depressed when they&#39;re in single-rabbit homes. But they&#39;re actually pretty particular about their pals, which is why experts recommend choosing a new bunny mate through a series of speed dates at places like Red Door.&nbsp;</p><p>Most will do best with a bunny of the opposite sex, explained Red Door Vice President Toni Greetis, &ldquo;but occasionally two boys will get along just fine. Still, we&rsquo;ll never introduce two girls because they&rsquo;re very territorial and can fight.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rabbies.jpg" style="height: 192px; width: 320px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: left;" title="Binky and Queenie chowing down on some delicious organic greens" />Some rabbits need several dating sessions with numerous candidates. But Binky was lucky to fall in love with a dainty little black rabbit called Brooklyn on his first date. We then needed to take them home for a series of bonding sessions, which consisted of peeing to mark territory and mounting each other.</p><p>&ldquo;Rabbits will mount each other regardless of whether or not they are fixed in order to determine dominance,&rdquo; Greetis says. &ldquo;Sometimes it&rsquo;s the female who will mount the male, but what we are looking for is certain body language. Is the bunny that&rsquo;s on the bottom tolerating being mounted? That&rsquo;s a good sign.&rdquo;</p><p>If you want to know how our bonding sessions went, all you need to know is that the demure little rabbit that we used to call Brooklyn, is now named Queenie.</p><p>We&rsquo;ve had to get used to a lot of things, like having rabbit litter boxes around the house. We can&rsquo;t leave town without finding trained rabbit sitters.&nbsp; And we have accepted that our wood work and furniture are going to be full of chew marks.</p><p>For fun, sometimes we watch a series of videos by comedian Amy Sedaris on things like how to massage your bunny.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JnuxGLa2reg" width="560"></iframe></p><p>If this doesn&rsquo;t sound like a great time, you may want to stick with chocolate bunnies this Easter.</p><p>But us? At this point we wouldn&rsquo;t have it any other way.</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;"><em>@monicaeng</em></a><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">&nbsp;</span><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 09:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-easter-bunnies-dont-make-best-pets-111819 EcoMyths: Do scare-tactics motivate people to live greener lives? http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-do-scare-tactics-motivate-people-live-greener-lives-111597 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Environmental Scare tactics_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-59fe6f45-a855-e9b0-16ac-4537d9a22910">Kate Sackman of EcoMyths Alliance says that, &ldquo;Many environmental organizations use scare tactics to motivate people to take action...For most people, the end result is that they are overwhelmed and too discouraged to act.&rdquo; &nbsp;For our EcoMyths series, we&rsquo;ll talk with Sackman and Diane Wood, president of the National Environmental Education Foundation&nbsp; (NEEF) about different methods to inspire people to get engaged with green issues.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188188068&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Many environmental organizations use scare tactics to motivate people to take action to protect the planet and resources we all share.&nbsp; For most people, the end result is that they are overwhelmed and too discouraged to act.&nbsp;</p><p>NEEF and EcoMyths Alliance share the core belief is that people will act in eco-friendly ways when specific actions are relevant and important to their everyday lives. We believe people need the facts and need to be given choices so they can respond in ways that are meaningful to them personally. NEEF and EcoMyths, through a series of stories, examples and games, present science to the public so that it is not only clear, but it also inspires positive action.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF &amp; EcoMyths - Who we are:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- NEEF&mdash;national organization advancing lifelong environmental learning. We connect people to useful knowledge that improves the quality of their lives and the health of the planet.</p><p dir="ltr">- We leverage resources through dynamic public-private partnerships and provide grants for innovative projects.</p><p dir="ltr">- NEEF embraces the idea that environmental issues can only be solved if all Americans understand how they play a role in addressing these 21st century problems and experience the benefits that come from doing so first-hand.</p><p dir="ltr">- NEEF sees a future whereby 2022, 300 million Americans are actively using environmental knowledge to ensure the well-being of the earth and its people.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF&rsquo;s reach:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- Reach up to 90 million U.S. households through 350 meteorologists, radio broadcasters and journalists participating in Earth Gauge.</p><p dir="ltr">- Enable 175,000 volunteers at more than 2,000 public lands sites in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico to complete $18 million in park improvements during National Public Lands Day.</p><p dir="ltr">- National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation&#39;s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. In 2015, NEEF will celebrate the 22nd annual National Public Lands Day on September 26, 2015. Toyota will sponsor NPLD for the 17th straight year.</p><p dir="ltr">- Children and Nature Initiative: Train thousands of health care providers on environmental health issues.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Rx for Outdoor Activity</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- Aims to prevent serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes related to indoor sedentary lifestyles and connects children and their families to nature to promote good health, enjoyment, and environmental stewardship. The Initiative educates pediatric health care providers about prescribing outdoor activities to children. The program also connects health care providers with local nature sites, so they can refer families to safe and easily accessible outdoor areas.</p><p dir="ltr">- Reach hundreds of thousands of students and educators with non-biased environmental education materials during National Environmental Education Week.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Americans Face Daunting Environmental Challenges</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- &ldquo;Environment&rdquo; is polarizing, Green issues seen as exclusive</p><p dir="ltr">- The enormity of these problems overwhelms people</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Feel powerless &amp; frustrated, Don&rsquo;t see relevancy to personal life, Don&rsquo;t see the value of individual action</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF&rsquo;s Approach:</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- &ldquo;Know more, Do more, Live better&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">- Empower people with knowledge and practical actions to help them become &ldquo;everyday stewards.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>People want to make a difference: By nature, individuals are motivated to make the world a better place: </strong></p><p dir="ltr">- 78% of US adults volunteer, donate or advocate with a philanthropic organization</p><p dir="ltr">- 6 in 10 US adults take action when they understand environmental issues</p><p dir="ltr">- 71% of Americans consider the environment when they shop</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF wants to start where people are, in an easy, straightforward way (&ldquo;lighten their load&rdquo;)</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>NEEF doesn&rsquo;t want to make people uncomfortable, but rather draw them in with welcoming messages</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Why this is Important - We (EcoMyths and NEEF):</strong></p><p dir="ltr">- We respect the intelligence of individuals, so we provide them with the environmental science facts they need to make decisions.</p><p dir="ltr">- We believe people want to do the right thing for the health and well-being of their families and themselves and the long-term health of the planet.</p><p dir="ltr">- We use storytelling to bring facts to life &ndash; e.g.</p><p><strong>ONE GREEN THING: </strong></p><ul><li><u>Individuals:&nbsp; Sign up for the EcoMyths newsletter</u> at <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org">www.ecomythsalliance.org</a> for guilt-free myth-busting articles that make you laugh and give you One Green Thing you can do</li><li><u>Companies: Sign up for NEEF&rsquo;s Business and Environment program</u> at <a href="http://www.neefusa.org">www.neefusa.org</a>.</li></ul></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-do-scare-tactics-motivate-people-live-greener-lives-111597 Hangover helper: Tips to prevent a horrible headache http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/hangover-helper-tips-prevent-horrible-headache-111317 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cn_hangover_sci_wide-eb5664df1582feefa7f6dcfbf6ea2fdbff7586c0-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The first time I&nbsp;ever&nbsp;got tipsy was during a champagne toast at a cousin&#39;s wedding reception.</p><p>All was good, until the room started spinning &mdash; and the sight of my cousin&#39;s bride dancing in her wedding dress was just a whirl of lace.</p><p>Of course, if you&#39;re an uninitiated teenager, any amount of alcohol can go straight to your head. But, decades later, bubbly wine still seems to hit me faster than, say, beer. It turns out there&#39;s a reason.</p><p>&quot;Some of the dizziness you can feel after champagne is due to both the brain getting [a little] less oxygen and also the [effects] of the alcohol at the same time,&quot; explains researcher&nbsp;<a href="http://www.colorado.edu/ibg/people/279">Boris Tabakoff</a>&nbsp;at the University of Colorado, Boulder.</p><p>All the bubbles in sparkling wine are carbon dioxide. The C02&nbsp;competes with oxygen in our bloodstream, says Tabakoff, who studies the effects of alcohol on the body.</p><p>And according to a Princeton University<a href="http://www.princeton.edu/uhs/healthy-living/hot-topics/alcohol/">explainer</a>&nbsp;on alcohol absorption, carbon dioxide &quot;increases the pressure in your stomach, forcing alcohol out through the lining of your stomach into the bloodstream.&quot; That can speed up the rate of alcohol absorption &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/12/31/258588280/does-champagne-actually-get-you-drunker">albeit temporarily</a>.</p><p>So if you want to stay steady on your feet, sip that bubbly slowly. And if you want to prevent a hangover, swap your next glass of bubbly for water. Alternating between alcoholic beverages and H20 can help prevent the dehydration that accompanies a night of drinking.</p><p>&quot;What happens when you first start drinking,&quot; Tabakoff explains, &quot;is that a hormone that controls your water balance, an anti-diuretic hormone, is suppressed.&quot; And this leaves us heading for the ladies&#39; or men&#39;s room &mdash; which can precipitate a pounding headache in the morning.</p><p>But Tabakoff says dehydration is not the only reason we get a headache.</p><p>&quot;High levels of alcohol in the brain have fairly recently been shown to cause neuro-inflammation, basically, inflammation in the brain,&quot; he says.</p><p>This is why taking aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, can help us feel better.</p><p>Now, alcohol isn&#39;t the only headache-producing culprit in our drink glasses. Many alcoholic beverages, such as wines and beers, contain toxic byproducts of fermentation, such as aldehydes. And Tabakoff says if you drink too much, you can feel the effects.</p><p>&quot;If these compounds accumulate in the body, &quot; explains Tabakoff, &quot;they can release your stress hormones, like epinephrine and norepinephrine, and as such can alter function in a stresslike way&quot; &mdash; paving the way for a hangover.</p><p>Tabakoff says distilled spirits contain fewer of these toxic compounds than other types of booze, which explains why some people report feeling fewer hangover effects if they stick with vodka or gin.</p><p>Obviously, the only sure way to avoid a hangover is to not drink alcohol. But if you are going to indulge, Tabakoff says the tried-and-true advice &mdash; eat something before you drink, and while you drink, makes good sense.</p><p>&quot;Food is very good for the purpose of slowing the absorption of alcohol,&quot; he says.</p><p>Adding liquid calories to your cocktails &mdash; say, Coke, ginger ale or sugary punch as a mixer &mdash; is a good way to slow absorption, too. In fact, a study we&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/01/31/170748045/why-mixing-alcohol-with-diet-soda-may-make-you-drunker">reported</a>&nbsp;on back in 2013 determined that a diet soda and rum will make you drunker than rum mixed with sugary Coke.</p><p><a href="http://artscience.nku.edu/departments/psychology/facstaff/ft-faculty/marczinski.html">Cecile Marczinski</a>, a cognitive psychologist who authored that study, found that the average breath alcohol concentration was .091 (at its peak) when subjects drank alcohol mixed with a diet drink. By comparison, BrAC was .077 when the same subjects consumed the same amount of alcohol but with a sugary soda.</p><p>&quot;I was a little surprised by the findings, since the 18 percent increase in [BrAC] was a fairly large difference,&quot; Marczinski told us at the time. She says the difference would not likely have been as large if the subjects &mdash; who were all college age &mdash; had not been drinking on empty stomachs.</p><p>And here&#39;s another self-evident tip when it comes to drinking: Pace yourself.</p><p>&quot;We can get rid of most of the alcohol we drink if we [limit] drinking to one drink per hour,&quot; Tabakofff says. This way, &quot;our blood alcohol levels don&#39;t start accumulating.&quot;</p><p>One drink per hour is a rule of thumb, but that can vary depending on height or body size. Bigger people tend to be able to handle a little more alcohol, and smaller people a little less.</p><p>And remember, Tabakoff says, a single drink is less than you might think. It&#39;s 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or a shot of liquor.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/12/30/371950986/hangover-helper-tips-to-prevent-a-horrible-headache" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 11:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/hangover-helper-tips-prevent-horrible-headache-111317 Why we sign up for gym memberships but never go to the gym http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-we-sign-gym-memberships-never-go-gym-111312 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gym.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Gyms have built their business model around us not showing up.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Gyms have way more members than they can actually accommodate. Low-priced gyms are the most extreme example of this. Planet Fitness, which charges between $10 and $20 per month, has, on average, 6,500 members per gym.</p><p>Most of its gyms can hold around 300 people. Planet Fitness can do this because it knows that members won&#39;t show up. After all, if everyone who had a gym membership showed up at the gym, it would be Thunderdome.</p><p>If you are not going to the gym, you are actually the gym&#39;s best customer.</p><p><strong>So gyms try to attract people who won&#39;t come.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>If you haven&#39;t been a &quot;gym person&quot; in the past, chances are good that paying for a gym membership won&#39;t change that. Gyms know this and do what they can to attract people who haven&#39;t traditionally been gym rats.</p><p>Instead of displaying challenging equipment like weight benches and climbing machines in plain view, gyms will often hide weight rooms and other equipment in the back. Many gyms now have lobbies that are designed to look like hotels and fancy restaurants.</p><p>&quot;For the longest time, the design was around the sweat,&quot; says Rudy Fabiano, an architect who designs gyms all over the world. &quot;Twenty-five years ago ... clubs could be very intimidating. Remember there were the baggy pants that everybody had and the bodybuilders would bring their own jug of water?&quot;</p><p>Once gyms started looking more like hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, people who weren&#39;t bodybuilders started feeling comfortable in gyms. The casual gymgoer was born.</p><p><strong>Our brains want to be locked into annual contracts with gyms.</strong></p><p>Normally, we hate being locked into long contracts (cellphones, cable packages), but gym memberships are an exception.</p><p>&quot;Joining a gym is an interesting form of what behavioral economists call pre-commitment,&quot; says Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Wharton School.</p><p>Volpp says we actually like the idea of being locked into a gym contract ... at first, anyway.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;re picturing the &#39;new me&#39; who&#39;s actually going to go to the gym three times a week and become a physical fitness machine.&quot;</p><p>We convince ourselves that since we have committed to putting down money for a year, we will make ourselves go to the gym. And then, of course, we don&#39;t.</p><p><strong>Just when we try to get out, they feed us, massage us and ply us with alcohol. </strong></p><p>Gyms have big issues with retention, and most lose around half their members every year.</p><p>Once we realize that we haven&#39;t been going to the gym, even $20 per month can feel like too much.</p><p>To try to combat this, gyms look for ways to offer value to customers who aren&#39;t necessarily into working out. Planet Fitness has bagel breakfasts once a month and pizza dinners. Those are its busiest times. It also has massage chairs.</p><p>Other gyms have mixers and movie nights and spa treatments.</p><p><strong>Without slackers like us, gyms would be a lot more expensive.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>The reason gyms can charge so little is that most members don&#39;t go.</p><p>People who don&#39;t go are subsidizing the membership of people who do. So, if you don&#39;t work out, you are making gyms affordable for everyone.</p><p>If you are one of the brave few who actually do go to the gym, you are getting an amazing deal.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/12/30/373996649/why-we-sign-up-for-gym-memberships-but-don-t-go-to-the-gym">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 16:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-we-sign-gym-memberships-never-go-gym-111312 Global Activism: Meal Sharing on Thanksgiving http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-meal-sharing-thanksgiving-111135 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/mealsharing.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thanksgiving is almost here. And as many prepare to hit the roads and skies to see family and friends,&nbsp; you may be traveling with no place to go or you might be home alone.&nbsp; Jason Savsani says he has a solution for you. He&rsquo;s founder of Meal Sharing. It&rsquo;s a website and app that promotes cultural diplomacy by connecting meal providers to meal seekers, around the globe. For Global Activism, Savsani will tell us how to connect you with a meal and friends for the Holidays.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/177864474&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-meal-sharing-thanksgiving-111135 Luxury brands court Chinese students http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/luxury-brands-court-chinese-students-111127 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CHINESE STUDENT1 (lavinia).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a recent blustery night, stylish Chinese college students lined the aisles of the Bloomingdale&rsquo;s department store in downtown Chicago. They were sipping cucumber cocktails and checking out the latest fashions modeled by and for Chinese students.</p><p>They&rsquo;d been invited by the high-end retailer in an effort to connect with a new generation of U.S. college student from Mainland China.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason they want to reach us is very simple because we are going to buy their product,&rdquo; said party attendee Kim, a marketing major at DePaul University.</p><p>Kim is one of the 274,000 Chinese students attending college in the States. That number has tripled in the last six years, cementing China as the biggest source of international students to the U.S. for several years running.</p><p>But these are not the thrifty Chinese grad students of yesteryear. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chinese students (who are now about half graduate students and half undergrads) spent $8 billion in the U.S. in 2013 alone.</p><p>&ldquo;These are the elites of the Chinese population,&rdquo; said Peggy Blumenthal, a senior counselor at the Institute for International Education. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re mostly from cities and used to spending for big brands and used to having a new car and a new watch.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The spending power of these students hasn&rsquo;t been lost on U.S. government officials.</p><p>Earlier this month, the state department relaxed rules on visas for Chinese students, expanding them to five years. As Secretary of State John Kerry was handing out the first batch, he told one Kansas University grad returning to the states to remember to &ldquo;spend a lot of money.&rdquo;</p><p>Wen Huang is a Chicago based writer and China watcher who came to Springfield Illinois as a Chinese grad student 24 years ago. And as he recalls it, things were very different then.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I came here with $76 in my pocket, which was the case with lots of Chinese students who came in the 1990s and 80s,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We would shop at Venture. That was like a Walmart place. We never had money to buy name brand stuff but we felt that everything that was made in America was name brand. On weekends we&rsquo;d treat ourselves to Old Country Buffet and then go shopping at Venture.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Most students at that time came on scholarships, but the Chinese undergrads flooding American colleges today are supported largely by family money.</p><p>&ldquo;They are the children of either government officials or the children of entrepreneurs who have amassed a huge fortune during China&rsquo;s economic boom over the last 7 or 8 years,&rdquo; Huang said.</p><p>Others come from middle class families who have channeled much of their resources into the future of their single child.</p><p>Chinese-American college student Solomon Wiener is majoring in East Asian Studies at Dennison University. Although he has traveled to China, he is still amazed by the spending power of this new wave of Chinese students.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;I drive a Lexus but my friend from China drives a Ferrari,&rdquo; he noted before hitting the runway in a sleek gray Hugo Boss suit. &ldquo;There is just a lot of cash coming from China and the kids are just able to afford these brands.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Chicago-based publisher John Robinson recently launched a new digital magazine Mandarin Campus in addition to his flagship magazine Mandarin Quarterly. He co-sponsored the Bloomingdale&rsquo;s event.</p><p>&ldquo;Mandarin Campus was born out of brands&rsquo; increasing interest in this lucrative demographic that&rsquo;s the Chinese university student,&rdquo; said Robinson who spent several years in China and speaks fluent Mandarin. &ldquo;The editorial focus is a little younger, a little more rock-and-roll than say Mandarin Quarterly, which is targeting sort of early-to-mid-career professionals.&rdquo;</p><p>The stories in these two magazines focus on business and career advice, fashion, and dining and lifestyle issues. Much of the content would be at home in Chicago magazine, if Chicago were written entirely in Chinese. The magazines are aimed at helping readers fashionably navigate mainstream Chicago (and San Francisco and New York where Quarterly is also published). But, they are also about marketing these high-end brands.</p><p>&ldquo;Brands like Omega, Burberry, Cartier, Tiffany, Bloomingdale&rsquo;s and Saks have all reached out to our business and asked for our support in their efforts to effectively engage Chinese,&rdquo; Robinson said.</p><p>Lavina, a Chinese marketing major at Loyola, served as one of the evening&rsquo;s models, sporting fashions from Theory and Burberry. Like a lot of the students at the party, she lives downtown and shops along the Magnificent Mile.&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of clothes I like to wear and the place I like to go shopping is at Bloomingdale&rsquo;s,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a very loyal customer because I live three blocks away, so it&rsquo;s very near and convenient.&rdquo;</p><p>The shifting financial dynamics of China have allowed the surge in enrollment at U.S. universities.&nbsp; But what&rsquo;s behind the new openness to parties and fashion that were never a part of student life for someone like Wen Huang?<br />&ldquo;The current education system is different in mainland China,&rdquo; said DePaul marketing major Caroline. &ldquo;We are more open to the foreign cultures like American and European cultures.&nbsp; We get more and more information about them and so when we came here we learned there are parties and different things we have to attend. We are starting to get used to that environment, and it is making us change.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the continued double-digit growth in Chinese enrollment last year, Huang predicted it will start tapering off soon.</p><p>He cited the slowing Chinese economy and the recent anti-corruption campaign under Chinese president Xi Jinping that has put the country&rsquo;s rich and powerful under a microscope.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now they are under close scrutiny,&rdquo; Huang said. &ldquo;And sending your children abroad is becoming an easy target for investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>So does that mean Coach, Tiffany, Bloomingdale&rsquo;s and Burberry are wasting their time courting the young Chinese consumer? Huang said no<ldquo;i a="" as="" because="" buy="" buying="" cheaper="" china="" designer="" have="" he="" higher="" in="" lot="" much="" of="" only="" p="" pay="" s="" said.="" see="" still="" students="" t="" than="" the="" they="" thing="" think="" to="" will="" you=""></ldquo;i></p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/luxury-brands-court-chinese-students-111127 Longtime Rogers Park butcher hangs up his apron http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/longtime-rogers-park-butcher-hangs-his-apron-111043 <p><p dir="ltr">At first glance, Ed &amp; Erv&rsquo;s Centrella Food Mart on Touhy Avenue looks like any other small neighborhood grocer. Step inside and the first thing you notice is the smell of mothballs. On the shelves are the usual dry goods: cereal, canned beans and rice. Milk and dairy are in a refrigerator at the rear, and in a corner next to the cash register is a small area for fresh vegetables and fruits.</p><p dir="ltr">But all the way in the back is the store&rsquo;s real hidden gem: a butcher&rsquo;s counter. Denny Mondl, the owner, stands behind a case of his special ground chuck, homemade Italian sausage, bratwurst and skinless hot dogs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Obviously my specialty is the butcher. Probably two-thirds of my sales are in the back,&rdquo; he said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rogers%20Park%20grocer%202.JPG" style="float: right; height: 208px; width: 310px;" title="Mondl’s father, Erv Mondl, co-founded the neighborhood grocery 47 years ago on Touhy Ave. in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Mondl&rsquo;s father, the &lsquo;Erv&rsquo; in the store name, opened the store with his business partner in 1947. For nearly seven decades, the small shop served generations of Rogers Park residents who were in the know about the high-quality meats they stocked, and who came to regard the Mondl family as a part of an extended family.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Denny really exemplified what is so good about this neighborhood,&rdquo; said longtime Rogers Park resident Kathy Kirn.</p><p dir="ltr">Kirn&rsquo;s son, now 18 years old and attending college in Boston, once worked as a cashier in Mondl&rsquo;s store. Kirn said as soon as her son found out Mondl planned to close, he bought an airplane ticket to Chicago to visit his old boss.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Denny would make him sandwiches,&rdquo; Kirn said of her son, when he was in grade school. Like many regulars, Kirn&rsquo;s family kept a running tab, paid off regularly, at the store. Mondl never hassled them for payment on the spot.</p><p dir="ltr">Kirn recalled one time that Mondl saved a large family dinner from going awry. She had ordered brisket for a large Rosh Hashanah dinner, but her husband forgot to pick it up. &ldquo;We got home and the babysitter with our kid said someone came and delivered something,&rdquo; Kirn said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And Denny had it delivered to my house. He said &lsquo;I knew it was important, so I just had someone deliver it.&rsquo; Who does that? No one does that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But Mondl said business really slowed down in the last decade.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I used to do six deliveries a day, and I probably do about six a week now,&rdquo; Mondl said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rogers%20Park%20grocer%203.JPG" style="float: left; height: 208px; width: 310px;" title="Customers have been signing a guestbook in recent weeks, filled with their memories of Mondl and how the store played a role in their lives. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Many of his older customers have passed away, and he thinks younger customers are too tired to go home and cook a meal after work.</p><p dir="ltr">Ironically, once people knew it was his last week, Mondl found himself just as busy as he was in the store&rsquo;s heyday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been making a ton of stuffed chicken breast and stuffed pork chops for people,&rdquo; said Mondl. &ldquo;And when I say a ton, I usually get a 40-lb box of chicken breast. I&rsquo;ve already gotten 120 lbs of chicken breast this week alone to bone out the breast to put the stuffing in it. And pork loins, the same thing.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Hollye Kroger, a Rogers Park resident who only discovered Mondl&rsquo;s store last year, said she&rsquo;s very sad to see him retire. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m getting all kinds of food, tons of food to take home,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;and stuffed chicken to stick in my freezer so I can pretend that it&rsquo;s still open for another couple of months.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Mondl said that at 65 years old, he&rsquo;s the only one among his grade-school and high-school buddies who still works full-time, so he&rsquo;s ready to hang up his butcher apron.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to miss talking to people and the camaraderie with everybody,&rdquo; he said. But he&rsquo;s ready to take it easy. &ldquo;I have projects at home to finish that I&rsquo;ve only started,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;because I&rsquo;ve only been off one day a week.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 01 Nov 2014 17:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/longtime-rogers-park-butcher-hangs-his-apron-111043 The tale of the two-flat http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164044282&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast version of the story includes an excerpt from a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009#related" target="_blank">more extensive examination of Chicago-area wooden porches used as a means of egress</a>. To catch every episode, <a href="http://wbez.is/VIdLFv" target="_blank">subscribe to our podcast</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Most older U.S. cities have a signature kind of building. In Brooklyn it&rsquo;s the brownstone, one standing shoulder-to-shoulder to the next. In Philadelphia, newcomers and visitors are struck by the distinctive row houses.</p><p>What about Chicago? Well, it&rsquo;s a city known for its skyscrapers, for sure. Outside of downtown, though, you won&rsquo;t find soaring steel and glass. In the neighborhoods, it&rsquo;s wood, brick and stone. The real workhorse of Chicago&rsquo;s built environment is the modest, ubiquitous (yet fascinating) two-flat.</p><p>You know the building. Two stories, with an apartment unit on each floor, usually with bay windows greeting the street through of a facade of brick or greystone. Most were built between 1900 and 1920.</p><p>Two-to-four unit apartment buildings make up 27 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s housing stock, according to data from the <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">DePaul Institute of Housing Studies</a>. The rest is split evenly between single-family homes, condominiums and buildings with five or more units.</p><p>We recently got a question that returns some wonder to this everyday building. Our question asker, who chose to stay anonymous, is particularly interested in why the two-flat became so popular. And she wants to know who calls these buildings home. As she observes in <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">the question she submitted to Curious City</a>, they&rsquo;re somewhere between suburban houses and big apartment buildings:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago-area two-flats straddle the line between apartments and homes. Who were they originally designed to serve? Has that changed?</em></p><p>The answer to that last part? It&rsquo;s revealed in a story, one you&rsquo;d miss if you choose to focus on the city&rsquo;s skyline or crane your neck to see the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower. It turns out the advent of the humble two-flat mirrors the development of Chicago&rsquo;s middle class. And in many ways it still does today, but in the wake of the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, that may be changing.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A Bohemian building boom</span></p><p>Through the late 1800s, European immigrants made up almost half of Chicago&rsquo;s population. Hundreds of thousands of Polish, German and Czech people settled here, often making their first home in narrow one-story buildings usually made out of wood. Those came to be called worker&rsquo;s cottages.</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://wbez.is/1q1Znnk" target="_blank"><strong>Related: How the size of the &quot;foreign born&quot; population has changed in the city.&nbsp;</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>As Chicago&rsquo;s big industries grew &mdash; Sears, McCormick Reaper and Western Electric, to name a few &mdash; so did the population. Soon it made sense for developers and architects to build up as they built out. Hence two- and three-flat buildings, which offered denser housing, and gave the owners a shot at some extra income from renting out their extra unit.</p><p>We found several architects from the era who built two-flats by the dozens on spec, meaning they weren&rsquo;t designing for a specific client, but acting as &ldquo;owner-architect&rdquo; in the parlance of records from the era. Many of them were Bohemian. (Today, the former Bohemia is part of the Czech Republic).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/czeckad.jpg" title="An ad for Lawndale two-flats steered toward Eastern European immigrants. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum) " /></p><p>In fact, along with Jen Masengarb of the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> &mdash; whom we partnered with on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">this voting round</a> and helped us research this story &mdash; we found an old article from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> that shows the connection between the city&rsquo;s booming Czech population and its sprawling housing market. A headline from <a href="http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/28540648/" target="_blank">Oct. 17, 1903</a> crows: &ldquo;BOHEMIANS IN LEAD AS BUILDERS OF HOMES.&rdquo;</p><p>At the convention of the Building Association league of Illinois, Bohemian Frank G. Hajicek boasted of &ldquo;$12,000,000 in shares in force&rdquo; held by the &ldquo;the Bohemians of Chicago.&rdquo; It was a point of pride for the 28-year-old resident of the South Lawndale neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Never in the history of the world, I believe, have people in a foreign land established themselves in homes so securely and rapidly as have the 200,000 Bohemians who make Chicago their home,&rdquo; said Hajicek in 1903.</p><p>In the heavily Eastern European Southwest Side neighborhoods of Pilsen (named for the Bohemian city of Plzeň), North Lawndale and South Lawndale, many of those homes were two-flats.</p><p>With Masengarb&rsquo;s help, we dug up some documents at the<a href="http://www.chicagohistory.org" target="_blank"> Chicago History Museum</a>, including a 1915 &ldquo;Book of Plans&rdquo; that enticed homebuyers to order away for all the materials needed to build a two-flat sized for a typical Chicago city lot.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/bookofplanslarger.png" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bookofplansinset.png" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. Click for larger view. " /></a></div><p>&ldquo;Our design No. 144 is a two-family flat designed for a money making proposition,&rdquo; begins one such ad. &ldquo;Anyone wanting a comfortable home and at the same time a good income on the investment will do well to consider this proposition.&rdquo;</p><p>Many, it seems, did consider it. A 1910<em> Tribune</em> article reported $38 million of flat building, &ldquo;a new high record in this field, exceeding by over $4,000,000 the figures of 1908, which also established a new record.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A &lsquo;workhorse building&rsquo; in a western paradise</span></p><p>Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that it often wasn&rsquo;t young first-generation immigrants buying Chicago two-flats. Instead it was those who immigrated to Chicago as children in the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century had built up enough money to graduate from renting.</p><p>&ldquo;What appears to have happened is that the Czech population was essentially moving further west, out of Pilsen and other sort of areas, Maxwell Street areas, to newer land, I guess you could say,&rdquo; says Matt Cole of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, which administers the <a href="http://www.nhschicago.org/site/3C/category/greystone_history" target="_blank">Historic Greystone Initiative</a>. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where the name California [Avenue] comes from &mdash; it was like their western paradise.&rdquo;</p><p>Jen Masengarb and I take Cole up on his offer to point out one such western paradise: <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/North+Lawndale,+Chicago,+IL/@41.8582574,-87.7139721,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x880e328a692e8e51:0x26c3604dc3282d76" target="_blank">the part of North Lawndale known as K-Town for its K-named avenues (Kostner, Kildare, Keeler, etc.)</a> near Pulaski and Cermak Roads. In 2010 K-Town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its collection of classic Chicago apartment buildings.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/masengarbktown.jpg" title="Reporter Chris Bentley, Jen Masengarb and Matt Cole with Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago meet in K-Town to learn about Chicago's two-flats. (Photo courtesy Anne Evans) " /></div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a microcosm of Chicago architecture,&rdquo; says Cole, pointing out stately greystones, single-family brick residences and flats in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Prairie to mashups of any and all architectural detailing popular between 1900 and 1930. &ldquo;The reality is that the two-flat and three-flat are the workhorse building of this period of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>During our neighborhood walk, Masengarb points out that for a lot of early 20th century Chicagoans, the two-flat was a vehicle of social mobility.</p><p>&ldquo;This two-flat is that bridge, I think, between that older 1880s, 1870s housing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And then the bungalow which was the even bigger dream, and a bigger yard, my own space and nobody living upstairs, clomping around. &ldquo;</p><p>Consider Frank Stuchal. Census data shows in 1888 he immigrated to Chicago from Bohemia as a 13-year-old with his parents and two sisters. The census is taken every 10 years, and every 10 years as his income increased &mdash; Stuchal was first employed as a typesetter, then a print shop foreman, and finally business manager for a newspaper &mdash; he moved further west along Cermak avenue. In 1900 the 24-year old Stuchal rented an apartment at W. 23rd Street and South Spaulding Avenue with his two sisters. In 1920 he and his wife owned a two-flat, half of which they rented out to a German family. By 1930 he and his wife were raising their son in a bungalow they owned in the southwest suburb of Berwyn.</p><p>The 1920 census shows the street lined with two-flats occupied by second generation Czech, German, and Polish immigrants in their 40s and 50s, raising Chicago-born teenagers. Stuchal&rsquo;s neighbors included butchers, policemen, bookkeepers, bricklayers and librarians.</p><p>That two-flat Stuchal owned in 1920 was in K-town, near 21st Place and Keeler Avenue. It was built in 1916, and <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank">it&rsquo;s still there</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Capture_0.JPG" style="width: 610px; height: 234px;" title="Frank Stuchal's two-flat was built in 1916. (Google Streetview/Google)" /></a></div><p>Today it&rsquo;s owned by Arquilla Lawrence, whose parents moved in when she was two years old.</p><p>&ldquo;And I love it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been my home all my life, ever since I was two we moved into the neighborhood. I&rsquo;ve been here my whole life except when I went away to college.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many African-Americans, Lawrence&rsquo;s father moved to the neighborhood from the South &mdash; Oklahoma, in his case &mdash; during <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/545.html" target="_blank">The Great Migration of blacks to northern cities </a>during the middle of the 20th century. After World War II the neighborhood became the first African-American neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so well kept,&rdquo; says Corey Brooks, who also grew up in K-town. &ldquo;Because most of [the property owners] migrated from the South. This is where they put their roots in, so they all know each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Brooks introduces us to his wife, Rita, who is on her way to check in on her mom. Both of them moved back to their childhood homes in order to care for their parents. Turns out it&rsquo;s not just the neighborhood&rsquo;s property ownership that has lasted all these years.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my childhood sweetheart,&rdquo; says Rita, pointing to Corey. &ldquo;He was my first boyfriend! Then he got married to someone else, I got married, I lost my husband, and then two years ago we found each other and got married.&rdquo;</p><p>Before we leave K-Town, Jen Masengarb surveys the mishmash of early 20th century architectural styles on display.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a metamorphosis or an evolution. We&rsquo;re gonna try this over here on this block, and then this is five years later we&rsquo;re gonna try this &hellip; You can just see it evolving in the way that we live and the decisions that we&rsquo;re making in terms of what our families need, what is stylistically impressive,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This architecture is us, it&rsquo;s a reflection of us.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Losing equity: Is the workhorse getting exhausted?</span></p><p>So the form of two-flats was basically a response to economics and demographics, as well as the size and shape of a Chicago city lot. The buildings no longer house predominantly Czech and other Eastern European immigrants, but today&rsquo;s tenants share a lot with their neighbors across the decades &mdash; many of them used two-flats to build community and a little bit of personal wealth in the form of equity. The two-flat was a bridge to a better life for the families that built Chicago as we know it.</p><p>One hundred years later, however, it&rsquo;s not clear how much longer two-flats will be able to fill that role.</p><p>K-town is well kempt, thanks in part to incentives from its historic district status. But two-flats are expensive to maintain. And since the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, a lot of two-flats in other neighborhoods around Chicago are sitting vacant or being bought by developers who don&rsquo;t occupy the units.</p><p>And sometimes the ownership moved in the other direction. Eric Strickland tells us he bought a K-Town two-flat in the 90s. When he purchased the building on 21st Place, it was divided into three units. Once he&rsquo;d saved up enough money, Strickland converted the two-flat into a single-family home. He lives there now with his wife and daughter.</p><p>During the housing crisis two-to-four unit properties were disproportionately impacted by foreclosure. And Geoff Smith from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a> says two-flats don&rsquo;t really make economic sense for new development, so they may well be lost to history in lower-income neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;What you see more commonly is a single-family home targeted for owner occupancy, or you see a larger rental building,&rdquo; Smith says.</p><p>He adds that, if older two-flats fall into disrepair, there will likely be no two-unit rentals to replace them. &nbsp;&ldquo;The concern is that in some of these more distressed areas, where there is a substantial stock of these buildings, there is a risk in some neighborhoods that this kind of housing could be lost,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>That prospect matters. According to data from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a>, today there are more than 76,000 two-unit apartment buildings in Chicago. In some neighborhoods &mdash; Brighton Park, New City, and South Lawndale &mdash; they still make up more than two-thirds of the housing stock, as well as a substantial proportion of the city&rsquo;s affordable housing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://housing-stock.housingstudies.org/#13/41.8759/-87.6436" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/depaulmap.PNG" style="height: 300px; width: 620px;" title="Click to view full map from DePaul's IHS. " /></a></div><p>Prices for two-to-four unit buildings in distressed areas of Chicago fell roughly 70 percent between the pre-crash peak and current figures. That means many homes in those areas are worth less than they were in 1997, says Smith.</p><p>So if the &ldquo;money making proposition&rdquo; that two-flats once promised to working families is more elusive these days, what will become of the lower-income neighborhoods where these historic buildings are most prevalent?</p><p>&ldquo;Because of changing population dynamics, the changing nature of the city, in some areas you are going to see demand in decline. You may not see it recover, and there just may not be an economic value to some of these properties,&rdquo; says Smith. &ldquo;Hopefully some prescient, some really far forward-seeing investor can come in and say &lsquo;these properties have value for the long-term.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist and reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Follow him at cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research for <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">the Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> and contributed reporting to this story. </em></p><p><em>Correction: A draft of the text for this story misstated the time period during which the majority of Chicago two-flats were constructed. The correct timeframe is between 1900 and 1920.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681